Inclusion and exclusion in mid-life lesbians’ experiences of the Pap test

Lesbians are said to feel excluded by sexual health messages that presume heterosexuality, a finding linked to lower levels of Pap testing. This paper discusses a small, focused qualitative study based in Calgary that illuminated lesbians’ experiences and perceptions of Pap testing and health.

Participants indicated that they felt compelled and invited to access Pap testing by an inclusive discourse – that of “mid-life”, a period associated with an increased need for body surveillance.